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Checking in with the crew at {milk bar}

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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If you’ve driven past {milk bar} in the Short North, you might at first have assumed it was a new lounge catering to fans of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”. But a year after opening, {milk bar} has made its name known as one of the hippest fashion boutiques in the city of Columbus. We sat down with Kareem Jackson to get a better idea of what life is like at {milk bar}.

Q: The Short North boutique {milk bar} celebrated its one year birthday in December. How have things been going so far for you guys?

A: I would say that the first year has been good to us in general. With help from online sites like columbusunderground.com, thegrip.wordpress.com and donewaiting.com we were able to create a buzz before we opened.

Some of the highlights of 2008 included Lebron James hosting his pre-season game after party at {milk bar}, The Kooks shoping at {milk bar} two days in a row, Steve Aoki hanging out during gallery hop before his gig, and the honor to sell brands like A.P.C, Rag and Bone, and Hyden Yoo this past fall. Being a entrepreneur is both scary and fun being at the north end of the Short North. We’re still waiting for an overall facelift in the neighborhood and recognition that stores do exist at this end the neighborhood, but Rivet and American Apparel paved the way for us to survive and strive in our location.

Q: Nice, sounds like a pretty solid first year. Any horror stories to share? Every store’s had some ups and downs, right?

A: If anyone reading has ever been inside {milk bar} they might have noticed that the floor is black granite. The first time it snowed after we opened I was gasping when I looked at the floor at the end of the day. Salt and snow mixed to make visible footprints everywhere. I would say it took about 3 hours to clean the floor until we figured out the right tricks to do it a little faster.

Q: Ha! That’s not too bad of a problem. I’d have thought with all of the events you guys throw that something could have gone wrong with one of them. Can you talk a bit about the types of events you have in your store, because they’re probably not what people expect from a fashion boutique.

A: Well, the first time we threw an event I would say that it was a little overwhelming. We had a lot of people in the shop at the same time, so it was a challenge to keep a watchful eye on the merchandise. But some of our events did better than others and some I would never try again. The events can help with the sales when done right, but when there are too many people in a small space and their minds are just geared towards partying, the last thing they are thinking about is buying anything. Some people who have never been to the store thought we were actually a bar or event space, especially since the name is {milk bar}. I had djs and bands calling or emailing me about booking shows for a long time. I would say around the end of the summer we had to re-think how many events we should do and how we should execute them.

Q: I think the first time I heard the name I thought it was a bar too, since the name is a movie reference to the bar featured in Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”. Has that been an ongoing problem? People showing up expecting a bar of some sort?

A: When we first opened quite a few people came in thinking that they were entering a bar to get a couple of drinks. Our windows are smoked glass, so the inside of the store is only visible at night. It’s basically a mystery as to what’s going on inside the store during the day, so its not until you open the door that all questions are answered. In the movie “A Clockwork Orange”, Alex and his Droogs (gang) hung out at the Milk Bar before they went out to create havoc. So we want everyone to come to {milk bar} so that they can get the perfect outfit before their night out on the town.

Q: Nice. That’s a great way to put it. So speaking of outfits… can you name some of the designers, labels, and brands that you carry?

A: Our store is based around brands that value exclusivity, detail, fit and the science behind design. In 2009 we were chosen by G-Star to carry their brand, based on our commitment to introduce, sustain and value the lifestyle and brands that are fashion. We refer to ourselves as “a society of fashionable savages”, meaning that our brands and customers are bold, confident trendsetters with the ability to make any garment or outfit work for them. We will be introducing Levi’s Premium Denim, Band of Outsiders and Modern Amusement for Women plus a couple of surprises in 2009. We are also introducing some high end footwear brands this year like Common Projects and Tretorn Locally. We also carry Homage and at the February Gallery Hop we will be introducing a local label called Rival Brand that has a lot of potential.

Q: Nice. What else do you have in store for 2009? Any fashion trends you’re predicting to be hot in Columbus this year?

A: My predictions for fashion can easily be seen on any fashion blog or magazine… but I would say that for Columbus fashion is based on the fact that some of the most stylish people are right here in our backyard with a vast amount of fashion knowledge. I have seen people shopping at Target for groceries whose outfits would put Soho boutique Shopaholic’s to shame. Those people are influencing others along with great shops like Sole Classics, Jinny, Rowe and Tigertree. The Short North will continue to be looked upon for its influences in fashion for the city of Columbus. Oh… and “Get Right” will be the best dance party ever in 2009.

{milk bar} is located at 1203 N. High St. in the Short North. Their phone number is 614.754.8802, and their website can be found here: shopmilkbar.blogspot.com.


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